The answer is both easy and crazy-making depending on where you’re going.
If you’re traveling inside the United States, the answer is easy: The Transportation Security Administration says that in general you can take “knitting needles and needlepoint tools” (no reference to crochet hooks) in carry on luggage. You can also carry scissors that are smaller than four-inches but anything that has a blade -- such as circular or pendant cutter -- must be in checked luggage.
U.S. transportation rules apply on flights leaving the United States for foreign countries, but once you’ve landed in Europe, South America, Asia or Australia, it gets a lot more complicated.
While you can knit on a flight from Los Angeles to South America, you aren’t allowed to have the knitting needles on the return flight from South America. In Australia, the rules say that knitting needles and blunt or round-tipped scissors shorter than 2.5 inches “may be taken on board in your carry-on bags at the discretion of the security screening officer at the airport.”
Here are some tips for traveling with fiber projects:
- Contact the airlines for every leg of your flight to confirm that you will be able to carry knitting needles or crochet hooks.
- Knerdy Knitter Karen Frazer said that she has taken sharpened pencils on flights in lieu of knitting needles. She coats the leads with clear nail polish to keep the yarn clean. This work-around also means that you have to work on narrow projects. Another option is to use chopsticks. You don’t have much choice of gauge with these options.
- Some travellers disconnect interchangeable needles from the cord and put the tips in a pencil bag where they are less noticeable.
- Pack a self-addressed, stamped envelope big enough to hold your needles and a needle threaded with waste yarn in case a security officer won’t let you board the plane with them. (Or you could step out of line and do a quick bind off.)
- Some travelers have suggested that wooden, bamboo or plastic needles are less of a problem than metal ones. (And also cheaper to replace.)
- In place of scissors or a pendant cutter, you can use nail clippers or the cutter on a dental floss container.